Just when you thought the snow would never melt, or the winds would never stop, daffodils brighten your garden with a burst of color in spring. Super easy to grow in most zones, daffodils are great cut flowers, can be used in both formal and informal gardens, can be grown in containers, and can even be forced to bloom out of season! There are many more varieties than just the time honored sunny yellow, and single and double foliage. There are even miniature daffodils, perfect for making a statement in a small garden, planting in a casual lawn of grass, or using in containers. If you know how to dig a hole and be patient, you can grow daffodils.
Daffodils must be planted in the fall to bloom in the spring with just a few easy care requirements.
How to Plant and Grow Daffodils
Choosing Bulbs and Varieties
Choose healthy bulbs by looking for bulbs that are papery, not shriveled. Full, heavy bulbs that don’t have gashes or cuts are a good sign of bulb health. Don’t buy any bulb with mold or fungus.
Most varieties will bloom wherever there is a winter frost, as they need a period of cold dormancy to force blooming. There are varieties that grow in the south in zone 9, check with your local nursery for best suggestions for your area. According to ‘Southern Living’, these types are perfect for Southern gardens. ‘Avalon’, ‘Carlton’, ‘February Gold’, ‘Geranium’, ‘Hawera’, ‘Ice Follies’, ‘Jack Snipe’, ‘Jetfire’, ‘Minnow’, Narcissus odorus, ‘Quail’, ‘Saint Keverne’, ‘Salome’, ‘Tête-à-tête’, ‘Thalia’, and ‘Trevithian’.
Varieties run from two foot tall sunny yellow traditional daffodils, to tiny little minis, to white doubles with a pure pink throat. There are pale yellows, coral throated beauties, and even a pure pink variety! Check out our favs at the end of the post to help you choose. Remember, choose for your space. Don’t expect a dozen minis to make a big impact on an acre lot.
Daffodil bulbs are planted in the fall, before the ground freezes. It’s best to plant them as soon as you can get your hands on them to give them time to set out roots.
Choose a light soil, they hate heavy clay. (Don’t we all?)
Plant 3 times deeper than their height. So if your bulb is 2 inches tall, you need to plant them 6 inches deep. 3-6 inches apart, depending on size, larger bulbs farther apart.
Choose a full to part sun position. Pink and red varieties have better color with afternoon shade, but all prefer 6 hours of sun a day for best flowering.
Seasonal Care to Grow Daffodils
Plant bulbs and water well. Water occasionally if the fall is dry. Add a bulb fertilizer at time of planting and each fall after that to help the plant store energy for blooms. Bone meal is a good organic food for bulbs, especially in the planting hole.
Water the bulbs if it has been dry, and a half strength liquid fertilizer at this time can boost bloom.
Do not cut back withering foliage until it has totally died back, like most bulbs. They need every last bit of the green energy to store away enough for next seasons blooms. Most gardeners plant perennials or annuals near the bulbs so that as they grow in the spring, they cover much of the aging foliage. Cut back foliage to the ground when it it totally browned.
Daffodils are very hardy and do not require being dug up for winter. You may mulch to prevent them from being displaced by the heaving ground at hard freezes. Remember to remove the mulch in spring.
Tips and Cautions
- Daffodils are poisonous if eaten, so do not plant where young children or pets can access them.
- The flowers will tend to face the sun, so make sure you keep that in mind when choosing your site. You don’t want all those gorgeous blooms with their backs to you all day!
- Daffodils can be lifted and divided with a sharp spade in early fall as they multiply, and then replanted for a larger display next year. Most can be divided every 3-4 years.
- Daffodils are deer resistant.
Our Favorite Daffodils
Our selections here are from ‘Brecks‘, as they are our favorite online bulb supplier. Nope, they did not sponsor this post, we just love ’em!
A traditional yellow, medium sized bulb, these thrive just about anywhere, and naturalize beautifully! And they have a vanilla scent!
A tried and true pure white variety. Large blooms great for cutting.
We love pink daffodils, and Cotinga has white petals with a pink throat. This is a smaller one, less than 12 inches high, but the long throat and delicate translucence to the petals make this an elegant choice.
Need a little more color from your Daffys? Try Riot for its red cups against white petals. Medium sized at 16 inches and very weather resistant, these are a great choice for grabbing attention for your garden!
‘Dick Wilden‘ aka ‘Golden Beauty’
This stunning double yellow daffodil is a focal plant, to be sure. Medium height, easy to grow. Gorgeous in a vase!
One of the most awarded daffodils, Bravoure is a great blend between a traditional happy yellow, tempered with a true pure white, and long elegant cups. Medium sized.
Tall, fragrant, beautiful.
This is the double version of the iconic Tête-à-Tête mini daffodil, and we love this! Perfect for pots at only 8 inches high, this is a lot of bloom packed into a tiny plant! The original Tête-à-Tête is not double, but just as sweet!
Our last choice is Salome for it’s apricot throats and pure white petals… These are medium plants that look amazing en masse. And they are fragrant!
Image Credits: Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks, Brecks